Oysters on the Half Shell Three Ways for Valentine’s Day

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”

– Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Before we set to work preparing these guys, Alan was in our dining room shucking 20 blue point oysters with a flat edged screwdriver. His hands were cut and red and the floor and his sweater were littered impossibly with oyster shell shavings.

But then our apartment was filled with the smell of the sea, which he said he loved. From floor to ceiling the atmosphere was all salt water, sand, tide pool, sea anemone. Oysters. There is no smell like it in the world.

To me it smells like memory, like watching the gray backs of dolphins peep out from beneath the white caps at Zuma beach. I can’t think of a more romantic food in the world.

When buying oysters, ask your fish monger when they were harvested. If they have been out of the water for less than a week, you’re good to go. And as for the flat-edged screwdriver, it’s a great tool for shucking oysters if you don’t have a shucking knife. Just be sure to hold the oyster with a kitchen towel to protect your hands from small cuts.

The best way to eat oysters is plain. A squeeze of lemon juice and you’re golden. But for Valentine’s Day, these three oysters are a nice departure from the norm and a fancier take on a food I love.

– Angela M.

Oysters with Lemon Chive Cream and Caviar

– 6 blue point oysters
– 3 tsp sour cream
– 6 tsp American black caviar
– Chives cut into 1/2 inch pieces
– 1 lemon

Top each oyster with 1/2 tsp of sour cream and 1 tsp of American black caviar. Place 2 1/2 inch chive slices over the sour cream and caviar. Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto each.

Oysters with Summery Watermelon Relish

– 1/2 dozen blue point oysters, shucked
– 6 tbsp diced salted watermelon
– 1 tbsp julienned mint
– 1 tsp minced ginger
– 1 lemon
Place 1 tbsp diced salted watermelon onto each oyster, along with a small dab each of julienned mint and minced ginger. Finish it off with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Japanese Style Oysters

– 1/2 dozen blue point oysters
– 3 tbsp smelt roe
– 1 tbsp thinly sliced scallions
– 6 tsp ponzu sauce
– 1 lemon

Place 1/2 tbsp of smelt roe on each oyster along with a pinch of thinly sliced scallions. Top each with a tsp of ponzu sauce and a squeeze of lemon juice.